Jacks open home slate with No. 4 OK State

South Dakota State continues its run of wrestling duals against ranked opponents at the start of the 2018-19 season, hosting fourth-ranked Oklahoma State Saturday night at Frost Arena.

Action is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. The dual, which follows SDSU’s Showdown Series football game against the University of South Dakota, can be viewed online via FloWrestling.org (subscription required).

The 22nd-ranked Jackrabbits enter Saturday’s dual with an 0-1 record iafter dropping a 30-9 decision to 11th-ranked Arizona State Nov. 11 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. SDSU received victories from top-ranked Seth Gross at 133 pounds and Zach Carlson, who moved up to 197 pounds.

sdsulogoOklahoma State will be wrestling its first dual of the season. The Cowboys, who feature a ranked wrestler in all top 10 spots in the lineup, claimed nine individual titles at the season-opening OCU Open on Nov. 4. OSU will close out its road trip by wrestling Sunday afternoon at No. 13 Minnesota.

THE SERIES: Saturday’s dual will mark the first time since the 2016-17 season and fourth time overall the Jackrabbits and Cowboys have met on the wrestling mat. Oklahoma State has won all three previous matchups, including a 31-9 victory by the top-ranked Cowboys on their home mat in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on Jan. 22, 2017.

OSU won the initial meeting in the series, 25-9, during the 2014-15 season in a dual wrestled at Miami, Oklahoma. The Cowboys also claimed the first meeting between the two programs as Big 12 opponents, defeating SDSU by a 20-15 margin at Frost Arena on Nov. 27, 2015.

#1 Oklahoma State 31, #19 South Dakota State 9 (Jan. 22, 2017)
125: #11 Nick Piccininni (OKST) tech. fall Ben Gillette (SDSU), 15-0 (3:47)
133: #7 Seth Gross (SDSU) dec. #2 Kaid Brock (OKST), 6-4
141: #1 Dean Heil (OKST) major dec. Isaac Andrade (SDSU), 9-0
149: #2 Anthony Collica (OKST) tech. fall #20 Alex Kocer (SDSU), 23-8 (7:00)
157: #6 Joe Smith (OKST) dec. Logan Peterson (SDSU), 10-3
165: #6 Chandler Rogers (OKST) dec. Luke Zilverberg (SDSU), 8-3
174: #20 David Kocer (SDSU) dec. #5 Kyle Crutchmer (OKST), 7-2
184: #6 Nolan Boyd (OKST) tech. fall Martin Mueller (SDSU), 18-2 (5:25)
197: #8 Nate Rotert (SDSU) dec. #4 Preston Weigel (OKST), 3-1 (SV-1)
285: #7 Austin Schafer (OKST) def. Alex Macki (SDSU), by fall 2:46

DUAL STREAK ENDS: South Dakota State had its school-record 14-dual winning streak come to an end Nov. 11, when the Jackrabbits fell to Arizona State, 30-9. The streak began last Dec. 3, when the Jackrabbits won all three of their duals against in-state foes at the Dakota Showcase in Spearfish.

SDSU outscored the opposition, 426-129, during its winning streak, which included an 8-0 mark against Big 12 Conference opponents.

BIG 12 SUCCESS: Now in its fourth season as an affiliate member of the Big 12 Conference for wrestling, South Dakota State has established itself as one of the top teams in the league.

Since joining the league at the start of the 2015-16 season, the Jackrabbits have combined to post a 22-3 record in duals against Big 12 foes, including a 15-1 mark over the last two seasons. SDSU’s only losses have been to teams from the state of Oklahoma – two to Oklahoma State and one to Oklahoma.

The Jackrabbits also have turned in back-to-back third-place efforts at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship the past two seasons after a fourth-place finish at their inaugural league meet in 2016.

RABBITS RANKED: The South Dakota State University wrestling team entered the 2018-19 season ranked in a tie for 20th place in the preseason poll conducted by the National Wrestling Coaches Association, but moved down to No. 22 in the Nov. 13 poll after its season-opening loss to Arizona State.

The Jackrabbits return three national qualifiers from a squad that posted a 14-2 dual record and turned in a 12th-place finish at the 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Defending national champion Penn State received all 16 first-place votes to hold the top spot. Ohio State is second, followed by Iowa in the third spot.

SDSU is one of six Big 12 Conference programs to be included in this week’s top 25. Oklahoma State is the highest-ranked team at No. 4, with Northern Iowa 14th. The other four are separated by five spots as Wyoming (18th), North Dakota State (20th), Utah Valley (21st) and the Jackrabbits (22nd) round out the poll.

Other Jackrabbit dual opponents currently ranked in the top 25 include No. 11 Arizona State and No. 13 Minnesota. Iowa State and Pittsburgh are receiving votes.

In other polls, the Jackrabbits are ranked 19th by both FloWrestling and The Open Mat, while standing 20th in the Intermat (tournament) and TrackWrestling rankings. SDSU also is 21st in the most recent WIN Magazine Tournament Power Index.

Individually, defending national champion Seth Gross is a unanimous No. 1 selection in the 133-pound weight class, receiving top billing from all major ranking services. Gross posted a 29-1 overall record during the 2017-18 season in making his second consecutive appearance in a national-title bout. He defeated Michigan’s Stevan Micic, 13-8, in the 133-pound finale in Cleveland, Ohio, in March.

Junior 149-pounder Henry Pohlmeyer also appears in national rankings, checking in at No. 14 in The Open Mat rankings, as well as No. 17 in both the FloWrestling and Intermat polls and 18th by TrackWrestling and WIN Magazine. Pohlmeyer previously was in the 141-pound preseason rankings.

SDSU’s third returning national qualifier, Martin Mueller, was tabbed 16th in WIN Magazine’s preseason 184-pound rankings, but is moving up to the 197 weight class during his junior campaign.

GROSS SEEKS REPEAT: South Dakota State’s Seth Gross will seek to repeat as national champion in the 133-pound division during his senior season in 2018-19.

Gross, a native of Apple Valley, Minnesota, qualified for nationals each of his first three seasons, competing at 141 pounds during the 2015-16 season before making back-to-back appearances in the 133-pound finals as a sophomore and junior.

Last season, Gross was honored as the Big 12 Conference Wrestler of the Year after repeating as 133-pound champion and was a finalist for the Dan Hodge Trophy, which is awarded annually to the top collegiate wrestler. In posting a 29-1 overall record, Gross’ only loss came when he moved up a weight class to take on top-ranked 141-pounder Bryce Meredith of Wyoming in dual action, dropping a 4-2 decision.

Gross’ victory in the 2018 title match marked SDSU’s first national championship – team or individual – in the Division I era, which began during the 2004-05 athletics season. He also became the Jackrabbits’ first two-time All-American at the Division I level.

CARLSON OFF TO FAST START: Junior Zach Carlson is off to a strong start to the 2018-19 season, posting a 4-0 record through the first two weekends while splitting time at 184 and 197 pounds.

A native of Kerkhoven, Minnesota, Carlson opened the year by winning the 184-pound title at the Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open on Nov. 4. He held off 15th-ranked Owen Webster in the title match to win by a 4-3 count. Carlson began his tournament run with a 12-4 major decision over Daniel Bishop of Augustana, followed by a 5-1 decision versus Caden Steffen of Minnesota.

Last week, in a dual against Arizona State, Carlson moved up to the 197-pound weight class and recorded a 9-1 major decision over Austyn Harris.

Carlson entered his junior season with a 9-11 career record, seeing action at all weights between 165 and 197 pounds.

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits are scheduled to return to action Nov. 25 with a dual at Minnesota. Start time against the nationally-ranked Golden Gophers is set for 1 p.m. at the Maturi Sports Pavilion on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. The match will be aired on FloWrestling.org.

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